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'We are courageous on paper, but nothing happens,' says MEP in research investment plea

German MEP Ralph Linkohr made a plea for action by Member States in terms of research investment at a joint briefing with Committee of the Regions rapporteur Lars Nordström on 26 November. Mr Linkohr, whose report on investment in research was adopted by the Parliament on 18 ...

German MEP Ralph Linkohr made a plea for action by Member States in terms of research investment at a joint briefing with Committee of the Regions rapporteur Lars Nordström on 26 November. Mr Linkohr, whose report on investment in research was adopted by the Parliament on 18 November, claimed that the 'trauma of Europe' is that 'we decide, we are courageous on paper, but then nothing happens.' He speculated that this is due to a lack of lobbying by the research community: 'Those that have a job don't protest, and those that don't aren't accustomed to protesting. The research community is too polite and simply goes abroad,' he said, contrasting the research community with the agriculture community. Mr Linkohr also warned of a 'deadly mood' in Europe. 'Europe consumes and does not invest in the future,' he said. There will be two principal implications to come out of the Parliament's adoption of his report, claimed Mr Linkohr. The first is that, having called for an increase in budget to 30 billion euro for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), '[MEPs in] the European Parliament are now obliged to fight for a considerable increase. The message to the Parliament is to be firm in policy towards the Council,' said the Parliament rapporteur. The second consequence relates to the creation of a European Research Council (ERC). 'This only makes sense if it is well funded,' said Mr Linkohr, who has therefore called for EU funding of five billion euro over a four year period. In order to make such funding available, a new instrument is required, explained the MEP, as all research funding must be carried out through the Framework Programmes, as stipulated in the Treaty. Mr Linkohr has therefore asked the Commission to prepare a proposal on how to link an ERC with the Framework Programmes. An ERC would, however, have to remain independent, emphasised Mr Linkohr, and much more flexible than the Framework Programmes, enabling very small amounts of money to be distributed as and when necessary. Committee of the Regions rapporteur on the issue of investment in research, Lars Nordström, echoed Mr Linkohr's call for more research spending saying that this is the only way to convince young people that there is a future for them in research, and thus to encourage them to consider research as a career. Mr Nordström also added, however, that money alone is not the answer. He claimed that the research system is far more isolated in Europe than in the US, and that more links are needed with society, as well as the private sector.